Saturday, May 09, 2015

My beautiful baby boy.




There's something about looking at my babies sleeping, especially my youngest baby, that makes me catch my breath.
This baby, this small being who babbles, has that unmistaken sweet baby breath and smells like baby powder, this is the last time I'll experience my children in this form. At this age. I'm not going to have any more children so all their firsts are also going to be my lasts. I may be blessed later in life to experience these again as a grandmother but these moments are my last as a parent.
My handsome 9 month old and my beautiful 5 year old will some day be in their 20s, and then 30s, leading their own lives wondering why their mama is always willing to hang out with them. At the drop of the hat.
Parenthood is lovely and cruel. We spend years loving, teaching and nurturing our children. Then they grow up and want to lead their own lives, understandably, but sometimes very far away. And parents just have to accept it. Or maybe their close by but life is crazy and there's little time to spend with their parents.
And parents just accept, love, and take whatever time they're given.
I know this is my future because it's what I've seen and even what I've done and do with my own parents. Work, my own little family, chores, friends and yes, rest, all take up time.
But 30+ year ago, my world revolves around my parents, just as my kids' worlds revolve around The Man and me.
This circle of life. Crazy, isn't it?

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Slower than molasses but ...

... last time I checked in here, I was 3-4 lbs away from goal. Despite the gluttony that was my tropical vacation (for which I have no apologies!), I'm now 1-2 lbs from my goal.
This is a big deal for me.
I will not be a skinny minny at my goal. I'm sure that some will look at me and think I should keep going. But 1) it is realistic and 2) medical professionals evaluated me from head to toe and came up with my goal so 3) I'm totally behind it.
Clothes fit me differently now. I know I've written about it before but I can't find it in a quick search and I'm pressed for time so I'll repeat myself. How little ol' lady of me ... which I fully embrace.
Today I posted on IG a photo of me in a pair of pants I haven't worn in a long time, maybe 2 years. Well, I was surprised by how loose they fit because my stomach is quite soft. It's sort of an optical illusion - my stomach is trimmer but also much softer. I think it is about the size it was when I got married. While I weigh less now than my wedding day, I did have a personal trainer whip me into shape:)
But, as I've mentioned before, I'm making a concerted effort to be kind to my body. To be forgiving and loving to my body. I really like this online article because it reminded me that my body has been through a lot and I am absolutely blessed to have given birth to two beautiful babies.
So I thank my body because, while my belly is softer than my youth, it has trimmed down so much I didn't even realize it until I tried on these pants. And these are the smaller sized pants of my 10 pairs. I wore size 8 pants for a year or so after The Bun was born. I wore size 6 pants about the time I got married.
I debated holding on to these pants because, frankly, I'm scared that I will gain the weight back. And almost all of them have been hemmed professionally so that certainly added to the cost! But after being approximately this weight for months now, I think it's time to free up the room in my closet.
I'm not a completely changed woman. My downfall is chocolate, always has, always will. But I'm much better at nourishing my body with good stuff like vegetables and (mostly) staying away from junk food.
Thank you, body! You've been very nice to me.

Fallen off the wagon: Well, that was quick!

We whomped up a trip to Maui in less than 6 weeks. This is not typical of Ms. Type A over here.
With all that goes into that, working full-time and being present to a 5 year old and 8 month old (although he is turning 9 months tomorrow!), my dear blog has fallen by the wayside.
Here are snapshots of our trip:

Baby boy's first plane ride and The Bun's first trip to Maui. (I cannot believe this is her 4TH trip to Hawaii. What?!)
Then my iPhone met its untimely demise. These photos are taken by The Man's phone which were scarce because I don't think he trusted me with it. I begrudgingly write that I can't blame him.

The Bean didn't enjoy the heat coupled with the sun. We found a shady spot on the beach and we were blessed with a breezy day. We took a photo to capture his cuteness.
We stayed at Honua Kai Beach Resort which had Duke's Restaurant by the beach. We enjoyed a few meals there. I like this photo because it shows my daughter lounging in her bathing suit. She got to do that for much of this vacation.
Honua Kai offered a complimentary photo shoot. We weren't prepared to for formal photos but that's what I kind of like about it. I wore my bikini with a bright cover up and The Man wore a his bright blue workout shirt. We had baby boy in his brightest onesie and The Bun was the only one who had something that could be called, "fancy." I like how the photos ended up. (Photo shoot was free, photos most certainly were not.)
I don't know the next time we'll be in Hawaii. It was a tough flight for my baby and I don't know if The Man was able to relax. But I'm glad we were able to do it and, overall, I had a lovely time.



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Monday, March 16, 2015

A very good day

Today was one of those rare days that starts off looking blah to mediocre but ends up being a really great day.
I had a day off today and decided to get done some errands that I've been putting off for months. I had to go to the Alameda County Recorder's Office to order The Bean's official birth certificate and file a notarized and updated version of our deed. Fun stuff. I don't know about you but I imagine bad parking and long lines whenever I need to do things like that. Thus my procrastination! But we'll be traveling soon and The Bean needs his birth certificate. Figured I might as well file my seed since I know it could be taken care somewhere in the vicinity.
I asked my mom and dad if they wanted to join me and The Bean. We could go to a restaurant out that way since we're all somewhat homebodies, for various reasons.
My mom thought it was an excellent idea, especially since they wanted to get their car serviced. We were getting all sorts of errands out of the way! Again, not exciting but all things that needed to get done.
I dropped off The Bun at school and headed to my parents' car dealership. I got their relatively quickly that we detoured to pick up coffee for me and a pastry for my mom.
I know I drink decaf but ahhhhh, coffee. It's almost ritualistic for me.
We headed to downtown Oakland and since none of us were going to work or have an appointment we need to make, it was a stress-free drive.
It's the little things I've come to appreciate.
We found close street parking and headed inside the building. I hadn't been there since getting The Bun's birth certificate and I must say, I forgot how relatively easy it was there. They have a desk where you check in and let them know what you want to do. They make sure you filled out the appropriate paperwork and then give you a number. I got both things done in half an hour.
We were done before the restaurant I chose was open. My mom expressed interest in going to a bakery because, since they don't drive much anymore, her pastry places were limited. I yelped (love Yelp!) and found a bakery in Alameda.
I chose nearby Alameda instead of Oakland for one reason. My parents are elderly, we have a many with us so places with parking were much friendlier for our little group.
We found a cute bakery called Feel Good Bakery and wow, was it carb heaven! Everything looked so good. It was housed in Alameda Marketplace which looked like a local and unpretentious version of Whole Foods. It had sushi, wine and cheese, a bakery and grocery store. We parked on the street but quickly discovered they also had a parking lot. Definitely a must return.
The pastries were flawless. But we jostled them about.
My mom then expressed interest in visiting Rock Wall Wine Company, a place I used to be a member of ... before I trimmed my budget:) Love that place. It's a beautiful space that isn't pretentious (notice a theme in what I gravitate towards?) They have a spacious and lovely outdoor seating where we can enjoy the sunshine, good wine and food.
My parents indulged my desire for Vitamin D. We ate a scrumptious lunch accompanied by some delicious wine. My parents and I reminisced when the area used to be an active Military base. How we would go there once a month to go shopping at the Exchange and then groceries at the Commissary.

My parents and I had a great time. The Bean was also on his best behavior.
These moments are rare. We're so busy with day to day life that it's hard to fit in these kind days. I see my parents often and we make time for one another. But I really appreciate these beautiful impromptu moments when we can slow down and enjoy each other's company.



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Friday, March 06, 2015

A different flashback Friday.

I always joke that if I had been more confident with my body during my college years, I would have been foot loose and fancy free! I would have walked around buck nekkid, proudly displaying what the my mama gave me and sowed my wild oats. If I had listened to what my older friends told me - "You're going to look back and wish you had appreciated your looks!" -  rather than wishing I was a size 2 or 0, I would've loved myself more.
I don't know. I'm politically liberal but, regarding sex, I've always been very conservative. By that I mean my own going-ons. It was hard for me to separate the physical act with the emotional ties. I equated it with love. Believe me, I'm not saying this is right. I think it's a much more fun outlook to keep the two separated! But that's just how it is. I'm somewhat a serial monogamist.
But surprise! That's not what this post is about. Because I would have, however, had no problem flaunting my bod if I had only been more confident. And by confident, I mean not giving an eff of what other people thought about me. I had (yes, past tense) been blessed with a flat stomach. Not a hard stomach, mind you, but flat. How lucky was I?  Unfortunately, I couldn't really appreciate it at the time because I wish it had been flatter and smaller.
Now, at 36 years of age, I'm much more sympathetic of my body. Sure, I brush my fingers over what I think look like angry stretch marks, sigh, and wish they would disappear. But I also think, "my poor body." I've had four pregnancies - one cesarean section, two laparoscopic surgeries, and one vaginal birth. Oh, I have also breastfed one baby and am currently breastfeeding another. My word. Poor, poor body. I've fed myself crap, fed myself good stuff, but mostly fed my body crap. It wasn't until recently I cared about wholesome, nutritious, organic food. I've stepped it up quite a bit, thank goodness.
I have been so harsh, so judgmental. I've unfairly compared my body to the bodies of movie stars, starlets, pinups, beautiful family members and friends ... why compare at all? I've hated, HATED, my poor body when all it has has done is gone through so much. My self-loathing wasn't just about appearance but I've also been so angry about the miscarriages. How dare my body not do what it's been made to do!
But I've gotten a lot better. I've still got plenty of things to work on but I think the first was to eat better. Going hand in hand with that is to be kinder and more understanding. I know my body will never be a size 2 or 0 unless I'm depressed (it's true.) I now have a realistic goal to shoot for which has been deemed by medical professionals as healthy. So important! I also am proud of what my body has done. We've come back from two full-term births. The strain my body endured! Not to mention being shattered, seriously, shattered from the last birth. I'd say it took about six months for everything to heal internally. Poor, poor body.
I'm still hovering about 3-4 lbs from my goal weight. I get frustrated and angry that I haven't made it yet but I also know that my body is fitting clothes better than it has in a long, long time. I also know that I haven't exactly restricted myself from goodies like chocolate so how much is it my mind rather than my body? My body can only do so much by itself.
I know that I will backslide. I know that I will get very angry and upset with myself, my body. But I hope I will revisit this post and remember to be kind. Be forgiving. This body has done so much for me.
-------------------------------
I was going to wait until I reached my goal weight but then decided, what the heck! The belly ring is back in. One might think, "She's too old to have a belly ring!" To hell with that, I say! It was either I keep it out and have a small scar or put it back in and rock it. I decided to rock it.


Wednesday, March 04, 2015

When I told her I loved her very much...

...she asked, "as high as the sky?"
"Yes!"
"Bigger than the world?" she asked.
"Yes!"
She captured it perfectly. My love is higher than the sky and bigger than the world for her and our family. What's funny is she will most likely forget this conversation but I wanted to be sure to remember. Because the description she created to illustrate my love for her is what I want to tell her and The Bean for the rest of my life.

While we were having this conversation in the car before school.






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Sunday, March 01, 2015

The city I live in

It's not a city, though. It's a town. 
According to about.com: In most places in the U.S. a town, village, community, or neighborhood is simply an unincorporated community with no governmental powers. (http://geography.about.com/library/faq/blqzcitytown.htm) 
I had to paste that in there because what I know about being in a town versus a city is that we have no mayor, the county sheriffs' department patrols the area and we don't have a city council.
A view of most of Castro Valley.

I love my little town. Castro Valley is very nice without being high-falutin'. The Man and I are working class folk. We like that our community is a little quirky. We have a hodgepodge of neighborhoods - some well thought out, a lot "organically grown" throughout the decades. We have young families, senior citizens, and just about everything in between. I love how authentically diverse it is - ethnically, socioeconomically, religiously, sexually, generationally ... you name it, we just about have it. Except for nightlife. We definitely do not have a party scene. Which is perfect for us because we need a family friendly town. I'll be honest, if I was single and in my 20s, San Francisco or thereabouts would definitely be the place for me. But I'm not and I'm not;) For what we want and need, Castro Valley is just about perfect for us.
We wanted:
1. A very good to great school district
2. To live close to my parents
3. A safe community where our kids could enjoy growing up
4. In the Bay Area
5. It to be affordable
I don't feel comfortable saying we had to "sacrifice" anything because, truly, I'm grateful for what we have. So let me just call these slight inconveniences we are happy to deal with:
1. Downsized living arrangements
2. Only 2 good restaurants in town
Not bad, right? We moved from a stand alone, two-story house to a two-story townhouse-style condominium. Say whaa? I know. Our home looks and feels like a townhouse but it's a condo. What's interesting is that even though it's smaller than our old house, it's a four-bedroom home as opposed to our old three-bedroom house. The layout of our current home is much more efficient with space and, in our eyes, a better design. In our old home, we had a master bedroom that was much larger than the other two bedrooms. Downstairs, we had a living room and a dining room but no bedroom. What drove us crazy is there wasn't even a small closet so there was no place to put coats or things like a vacuum. 
While it is annoying to pay more for a smaller space, not to mention we pay a much higher HOA fee, the trade-off is a safer community and a better school district. Due to moving into a smaller space, we're also forced to downsize if we didn't want to feel cluttered. We're still working on it, actually. We have a lot of "stuff" and we continue to work on living a more streamline and simpler lifestyle. 
I took this photo on what I believe is the day we received our keys. That was back in 2013.
I'm surprised by how much I like my neighborhood. You see, our dream home is a one-story home where we hardly see our neighbors. The Man would like to live on a farm and do things like till the land. I would like to live in a beach cottage by the sea and shop regularly at a farmer's market. Slightly different goals. (We shall see how it all shakes out when we retire!) So obviously our home is very different than our dream homes. But our neighborhood is one of those that was well thought out when it was created. There are many of us, I think 180+ units, but it is very quiet. I'm thankful we don't live near party animals, reckless or inconsiderate individuals. Most of the residents are families and I think it's safe to assume most of us moved here for the schools. I wish we had larger streets and sidewalks but the grounds are beautifully kept. We also have very good security and watchful neighbors so there is little to no crime. Our HOA is also pretty on top of it. So much so that we had our hands slapped when we updated all our windows to more energy efficient ones the day after our contractor started the project. We were supposed to clear it with HOA first. Oops. But it also illustrated just how much they pay attention. This is very important to us since we had been burglarized at our old home where our HOA supposedly had a security service. 
Another perk is that we have great trails and walking areas (thankfully we do have sidewalks outside of my neighborhood) that make for a good workout. We also have a very nice Olympic-sized pool that I like to try to escape to every so often. 
It feels spa-like. My only critique is I wish it were heated. But then my HOA fees would be even higher so ... never mind.

About the quality of restaurants: The Man and I were shocked - and I don't write this lightly - how there are very few good restaurants in Castro Valley. There are exactly two that we like enough to frequent. The rest are bad to mediocre, at best. "How is this possible?" we thought. We live in the Bay Area, a food mecca! Well, it may be the large retirement population in the area but, in general, the food is bland. Even the chain restaurants which are usually a safe bet. And it's not just us. Many people we've spoken to have echoed our sentiments. It's inconvenient when we're hungry and not in the mood to go out because all the places that deliver aren't anything we crave. We've tried, believe me, and have been disappointed again and again. But seriously, such a first world problem. Which is why I have to label these two things "small inconveniences" rather than "sacrifices." 
There you have it, the town I live in. I don't know if we will stay here once the kids graduate from school because we can't imagine paying these HOA fees once we retire. But for right now and the next 18 years, this is where we plan on staying. I love it here because it's exactly what my family needs - a safe and lovely place to live and grow. I feel absolutely blessed to live in a nice home, in a nice town, near my parents and the village it takes to raise our babies. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Best Valentine's Day with my little family

This past Valentine's weekend was one of the best family weekends to date. We decided to go to Pacifica because it was a beautiful day. Since it's on the coast, we fully expected it to be 10 degrees cooler than our town. We thought we would enjoy looking at the beach, eat lunch and just walk around.
It ended up being an absolutely beautiful day. Instead of being cooler, I think it may have even been warmer than where we live. We were ill-prepared for a day at the beach but still had an awesome time. We had a late breakfast at a diner and then headed over to a popular beach. We found free parking (if you know anything about the Bay Area, you know that basically means your day is set), and headed over to to the beach.
The Bun was stoked. We rolled up our pants and waded in the water. I had The Bean in my carrier and we enjoyed the sunshine.

Getting bunny-eared by his daddy.
Family self-portrait. Poor baby boy didn't quite make it in the shot.
Depending on the kindness of a stranger for this shot. I think it's my favorite<3

The Man stayed with The Bean while The Bun & I climbed a hill. Cliff? It was steep! Can you see us? We decided to stop not much farther than when this was photographed. We were in flip flops and it wouldn't have ended pretty. But I was proud of us for being adventurous. I think we basically climbed a path for goats.
We had to cross the stream twice. It was slippery and, again, we had poor footwear for this. But we did it and The Bun loved it.
It was such a beautiful day, we agreed we wanted to try and repeat it. The worrier in me wondered if it would fall flat because sometimes you just can't repeat a good thing. But I'm glad it wasn't the case. The second time around we were more prepared - this could be a good thing as well as a bad thing. The good, of course, is that we could comfortably lounge on the beach because we had blankets. The Bun could also play in the water because she had a bathing suit and a change of clothes. The Man and I were also more suitably dressed in shorts and tanks. The downside was that we weren't as mobile, meaning we couldn't easily pack up, leave, and then return like we could the day before. Leaving the beach would be a permanent decision this time around. And someone had to stick around to watch all our belongings. The good, however, greatly outweighed the inconvenient!
It was absolutely gorgeous. We normally don't get too many beach days in February.
I took a 45 minute walk on the beach w/ The Bean in the carrier. It was so nice to explore, get some fresh air and get some exercise. I walked in the water and the closer I got to the bluff, the rockier the sand felt. Ouch! But well worth the exploration. Just gorgeous.
Had a little photo fun with my son. We stayed on the blanket while his sister and Daddy played in the water. Considering how cold the water was, I was pretty happy with our end of the deal.
Fate was on our side. Although we didn't have reservations, Moonraker sat us in one of their premium booths (well, just about all their booths had an amazing view). The deal was that we had to leave before their 6:30 PM reservation came. No problem! I had a drink (The Man had a coffee) before our delicious dinner.
We even caught the sunset. It was absolutely breathtaking. Caught my little girl checking it out and had to laugh. Perfect way to end the day. 
With all the planning one has to do as parents, it was nice to have a couple of unplanned yet marvelous family days. I think that's what really made it special. Before children, it was easy to have simple yet beautiful days with The Man or with my good friends. But, as I've learned, with precious cargo comes great responsibility:) We are one those couples that aren't so spontaneous because it makes our lives much better and easier when we plan. Having the rare opportunity to pack up ourselves and the kids with little to no planning yet have two really great days is a blessing.